Can you believe we’re two months into 2015 and there’s just now an Urban Outfitters scandal? Shocking! But still not as shocking as the retailers latest tone deaf mistake. After already offending just about every community or group, unwilling to leave any population untouched by their vulgarity, the store is now selling a tapestry that affronts homosexual Holocaust captives.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization fighting anti-Semitism, is urging the chain to remove a gray and white striped tapestry featuring a pink triangle. The group calls it “eerily reminiscent” of the badges male concentration camp prisoners were forced to wear to identify that they were gay.
“Whether intentional or not, this gray and white stripped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor in a statement. “We urge Urban Outfitters to immediately remove the product eerily reminiscent of clothing forced upon the victims of the Holocaust from their stores and online.” The piece could not be found online, but the ADL said the image was taken at an outpost in Boulder, Colorado, and the product was being sold for $69 as part of the “Assembly Home” line. Yahoo Style has reached out to Urban Outfitters for comment but have yet to hear back.
Inmates of a Nazi concentration camp in 1945. Photo: Getty Images
While the pink triangle has since been reclaimed as a symbol for gay pride, it seems especially absent-minded of UO to screen print the sign on the striped pattern. The combination is undeniably evocative of Holocaust imagery — and the company should know better (learning from experience and all). It’s not just marginalized victims form World War II who are the targets of the store’s ignorance (and let’s just say it: stupidity). Last September, the fast fashion outlet offered a “washed soft and perfectly broken in” sweatshirt for the very low price of $129 — with blood splatters on it. The faux vintage item was an apparent homage to the Kent State protest, but was actually just gross. And the list of insults is endless: the shop has trivialized underage drinking, religion, eating disorders, Native Americans, etc.
Urban Outfitters’ recurring poor taste and continuous presence in the news cycle even has some suggesting that the company creates obnoxious items just to draw attention to the brand. “Obviously @UrbanOutfitters thinks controversy from Holocaust and Kent State massacre jokes is good marketing. You’re a pathetic company, UO,” @MotiontoStrike tweeted. Eric Meyers wrote: “Once is an accident, twice is a pattern. Four times….” And they have a point: how many people’s eyes do these products pass over before they make it to market? With solid sales numbers, their strategy seems to be working — if only the same success could be replicated without upsetting nearly the entire population.